Senators Elizabeth Warren, Richard Blumenthal, and Thomas R. Carper have sent a letter to the White House Designated Agency Ethics Official, titled 'Ensure COVID-19 Decisions Serve the American Public, Not President Trump's & Jared Kushner's Financial Interests.
You can read a copy of the letter here. [warren.senate.gov]
Their letter is written to Scott Gast, Senior Counsel to the President And Designated Ethics Official.
We write regarding a series of recent reports that raise significant ethics and conflict of interest concerns about the White House Coronavirus Task Force and the roles and influence of Jared Kushner, President Trump, and other individuals with financial conflicts of interest.These reports are troubling: amidst the coronavirus pandemic, the American public should not have to worry that critical public health and economic decisions are being made in secret by public officials influenced by financial connections and personal ties.
Financial Conflicts of Jared Kushnerand His Task Force
Our first concern is that Jared Kushner—President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior advisor—has been managing a "shadow task force"of key government officials and private sector actors tasked with coordinating the private sector response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
Mr. Kushner'stask force reportedly includes "a suite of McKinsey consultants,"a private equity executive, and a host of other representatives from private industries. Though they have purportedly signed "voluntary service agreements" and have avoided participating in procurement processes, questions remain as to who exactly comprises this task force,the vetting process for its members,and what role the members play in addressing issues related to the pandemic. Moreover, reports indicate that Mr. Kushner's task force has been"attract[ing] companies seeking to entrench themselves in hopes of winning lucrative government contracts down the line,"3underscoring the need for robust ethics oversight. Mr. Kushner and his task force appear to have substantial, and often disruptive,influence over White House policy initiatives related to the COVID-19 pandemic. For example,Mr. Kushner has played a "central role"in the federal government's ongoing fiasco of procurement and delivery of ventilators and personal protective equipment to states that desperately need these resources.
And according to reports, because of Mr. Kushner's efforts, legitimate experts like U.S.Department of Health and Human Services(HHS) Assistant Secretary Robert Kadlec, National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield "and others have repeatedly had to divert their attentions from core operations to contend with ill-conceived requests from the White House they don't believe they can ignore."